I’ve been dying to read War of the Worlds for quite some time now. I actually bought a copy at one point from a book fair without realizing that it was the large-print, illustrated, abridged version. Oops. So I eventually downloaded it on my iPhone and read it with iBooks, and it was just as awesome and I had hoped/expected it would be.
The unnamed narrator (in fact, he is never actually named) begins by telling us of several explosions seen on the surface of the planet Mars, raising much interest in the scientific community. Later, when a “meteor” lands in Horsell Common, southwest of London and near the narrator’s house in Woking, he (along with many of the townspeople) go to the crater to explore. They find a mysterious metal cylinder that, the narrator is one of the first to realize, opens to disgorge Martians—giant, slimy, squid-shaped beings. As predicted by the narrator, they struggle to cope with Earth’s gravity and retreat back into the cylinder. Almost immediately, the Martians show their hostility when they use a heat ray to incinerate a group of men offering a white flag.
As the Martians begin to assemble their machinery, the narrator and his wife flee to Leatherhead, where she has relatives. He leaves her there and returns to Woking to discover that the Martians have built enormous three-legged fighting machines and are destroying everything in sight, the multitudes of human armies scarcely giving them pause. The rest of the story is a harrowing account of the narrator’s experiences as he wanders through the burned out towns surrounding London, desperately trying to avoid the Martians as more and more cylinders crash into Earth.
This was a fantastic story. I’m really loving H. G. Wells—I might just have to get myself a boxed set or anthology of his work one of these days! (Ahem, Andrew, if you’re reading, this would make a very good birthday/Christmas present!) I love his “factual account of true events” style. I also found it kind of amusing—but also sort of annoying—that the narrator seemed to look down on all the people who were running around screaming and panicking. I mean, who wouldn’t?? Yes, I realize it’s unproductive to do such a thing, but rational thought often goes out the window at times like those…
I can’t decide if now I’m more or less interested in seeing the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds movie. Maybe just for a fun action movie? But I can’t help but think I would just seethe the whole time about how different everything is. Has anyone seen it (who has also read the book)? Has anyone seen it period and would recommend it just for a fun movie to watch?
Anyway, it’s nice to FINALLY cross this one off my list—and off The List! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has a taste for science fiction.